Terms such as “book” or “graphic novel” fail miserably at labeling the latest creation of cartoonist-cum-wizard Chris Ware. His Building Stories (Pantheon) may well be a high watermark for print culture: open the boardgame-sized box to discover 14 discrete books, booklets, magazines, newspapers, and pamphlets that comprise an infinitely satisfying choose-your-own-graphic-adventure. Meanwhile, having spent twelve years working sporadically on the project, Ware is the picture of modesty, describing Building Stories as “follow[ing] the inhabitants of a three-flat Chicago apartment house: a 30-year-old woman who has yet to find someone with whom to spend the rest of her life; a couple (possibly married) who wonder if they can bear each other’s company for another minute; and finally, an elderly woman who never married and is the building’s landlady.” Trust us, there’s more. Last week, Ware joined fellow story builder Zadie Smith, whose latest novel is NW (Penguin), for a conversation at the New York Public Library. Pour yourself a fresh cup of nog, sit back, and enjoy the below audio recording of the two discussing the role of space and place in their work.
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